The Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival is concerned to diversify and attract new audiences, but pleasingly the high standard of performances that we have come to expect at the festival has been maintained.
The visiting ensembles from Holland and Germany have been particularly good. One such is Berlin-based Mosaik, although in this concert of four world premieres by British, Mexican and German composers the programme let them down.
It was not really clear what was going on, or why, in the first two compositions performed, a situation not assisted by the largely incomprehensible programme notes.
Only the energetic composition by Sam Hayden was coherent, despite being a conscious attempt to revive the hermetic spirit of the new music of the 1950s.
In common with many other ensembles this year, there was a table full of laptops on stage, and some digital gizmos, including ‘sensored gloves’.
Nevertheless, the actual sound of most of the compositions performed was very old fashioned modern, instrumental players hitting their instruments and shouting, the pianist crashing his forearms along the keyboard.
This too may be a modishly ‘retro’ stance.
The attention-seeking closing piece by Michael Wertmuller, the ensemble’s drummer, was raucously overblown and hilariously bad. It kept reminding me of Adrian Edmondson being a prat in The Young Ones.
Unlike the wonderful performance by the eminent American composer Robert Ashley the night before, this concert was a disappointment, a dead end.
To re-quote Samuel Beckett from one of the composer’s programme notes, they need to ‘Fail again. Fail better’.